September 7, 2001

Commentary

Democrats call on President Bush to re-craft a fair immigration policy

Here in Los Angeles and in urban and rural communities nationwide, millions of immigrant men and women do the grueling work that keeps the American economy going. They pay taxes, educate their children and obey our laws. But as undocumented workers, they are stuck in the shadows of American society, often exploited at work, separated from their families, living every day in fear of deportation.

The time has come to bring our people out of the shadows and into the sunlight of mainstream American life. The time has come for a change in U.S. immigration policy. America is, was, and always will be a nation of immigrants. How can a nation heralded as the world's melting pot ignore those already living within its borders and contributing to its well being?

For decades, the Democratic Party has fought to protect our vulnerable workers with a fair and compassionate immigration policy. Republicans, like Pete Wilson, meanwhile, have too often resorted to punitive, demonizing measures like California's Proposition 187, a cruel and heartless proposal that would have stripped immigrants of fundamental human rights. Last fall, it was Congressional Republicans who cut the very heart out of the Latino and Immigrant Fairness Act, which would have provided legal status to two million people.

President Bush, whether motivated by politics or principle, has said he wants to soften his Party's stance on immigration. And we want to believe him. But he is already retreating, buckling under the pressure of hard-line Republicans like Phil Gramm of Texas who said that legalizing undocumented workers would pass over his "cold, dead, political body".

Today, we have a chance to build on the American tradition of tolerance and inclusion... but only if President Bush decides to reject the anti-immigrant forces of his Republican Party. President Bush, I implore you to give more people the chance to live the American Dream. Embrace an immigration policy that reflects American values of family, fairness and economic opportunity.

After meeting with Mexican President Vicente Fox, we Democrats call on you, President Bush, to adopt an immigration policy that reflects the following principles:

1) Family Reunification
2) Earned Access to Legalization
3) Border Safety and Protection
4) Enhanced Temporary Worker Program
5) Fairness for Immigrants and Legal Residents

In addition to strengthening the national economy, such a policy would honor family values and reward hard work. It would bring stability to the lives of millions of people who have come here from every corner of the globe.

As President, you can help lead a bipartisan effort make a positive, fair, equitable and meaningful difference in the lives of millions of working families. To do this, current immigration policies must be re-crafted to reflect our core values of family unity, fundamental fairness and economic opportunity. By doing so, we will give all immigrants the chance to become permanent members of our society rather than continuing to treat them like second-class individuals.

Art Torres
Chairman
California Democratic Party

Gil Cedillo
California State Assemblyman

Hilda L. Solis
United States Congress Woman

Marco Antonio Firebaugh
California State Assemblyman

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